Northwest Credit Unions Share Plans for Total Eclipse on Aug. 21

8/15/17

Idaho Central Credit Union employees will sport customized, branded tee-shirts on eclipse day. In addition, the credit union is providing members with special viewing glasses.

On August 21, North America will be treated to a solar eclipse, but totality will be visible in only 14 states. Nowhere is the viewing expected to be more spectacular than in Oregon and Idaho. Based on the number of sold-out hotels and campsites, car rentals, and chartered flights, state agencies expect hundreds of thousands of visitors in both states.

Several Northwest credit unions have branches in the “path of totality,” and they’re ready for the crowds. Read on to find out how different branches are addressing the situation based on what they learned in briefings with local law enforcement agencies, and their assessments of resources to ensure staff and member safety.

Number One in the Nation: Madras, Oregon

Many official government organizations and astronomy tracking sites list Madras, Oregon as the top spot in the nation for eclipse viewing. Totality arrives at 10:19 the morning of August 21, and will last for all of two minutes and two seconds, but a weekend of festivals and special events will bring up to 100,000 people to the area.

“We are closing our Madras and Prineville locations due to emergency services response times and employee safety and travel issues,” said Kyle Frick, Vice President of Marketing for Bend-based Mid Oregon Credit Union.

As eclipse enthusiasts use their smartphones to share their experience on social media, cellular services will be stretched. Mid Oregon CU has a plan.

“We have one executive that is tied into the emergency radio backup and response system who will provide communications if there are disruptions in service,” Frick said. “We have procured some satellite phones as backup communications and for future emergency use.”

In Corvallis, all Oregon State Credit Union locations plan a late opening.

“We will have our staff at work during regular hours, to minimize their traffic challenges getting to work,” said Mike Corwin, Assistant Vice President, Public Relations and Business Development. “The credit union will enable our team to join in the eclipse viewing with the hundreds of thousands in our area, and will be there to serve our membership at 11 a.m. on that eventful day.”

The population in John Day, Oregon, is normally 1,600. But on August 21, 50,000 people are expected there, putting strain on law enforcement and other public safety resources. As a result, Old West Federal Credit Union will close all branch lobbies.

“We made this decision with our employees’ and members’ safety in mind,” Old West said in a Facebook post. “We will be operating during normal business hours the rest of the week.”

Old West reminded members that technology will continue to keep their financial transactions moving along during the closing.

In Ontario, Oregon, Malheur Federal Credit Union leadership determined that security resources are under control, and that the event offers an opportunity to share a rare experience with members.

“We are offering our members free ice cream bars, and the convenience of being able to complete transactions as usual,” said Vonnie Paul, Business Development Specialist. “Extra security is in place,” Paul added. “The credit union is also giving its members safety glasses to protect their eyesight during eclipse viewing.”

Eclipse Viewing to Shine in the Gem State

The city of Idaho Falls has marshalled enough resources to handle crowds so visitors can enjoy the event. There are four official viewing sites with parking and restrooms available, minimizing the chaos other areas could see.

Tracy McCord, Vice President of Marketing at East Idaho Credit Union, said Board Member Nate Downey works for the local sheriff’s department and feels safety will be under control. The credit union plans a brief closing near totality. “We will be having a potluck with our staff, and will close from 10:45-11:45 so our staff can enjoy this historical event,” said McCord.

Idaho Central Credit Union has two branches in the path of totality, and other locations nearby.

“We plan to have all branches open to serve our members that day,” said Laura Smith, Public Relations Manager. The credit union is also offering souvenirs. “We purchased ICCU-branded eclipse glasses and provided them to the branches near the path, and designed a commemorative t-shirt for our team members to wear that day.”

Posted in Around the NW.